There are some things in my pantry which I consider ‘vegan basics’ (aka vegan pantry essentials). These are things which I rarely cooked with before but which I use now on a regular basis because they make everything that much better! If you are a new vegan (or vegan virgin) here are the 5 things I recommend you purchase ASAP:
- Nutritional Yeast: this inactive yeast is full of nutty, cheesy flavor and I use it in everything from spaghetti sauce to popcorn. Nutritional information varies from manufacturer to manufacturer but it packs a protein punch and is full of amino acids and B vitamins. So, not only does it taste great, but it is also a winner from a nutritional standpoint. You may hear it referred to as “nooch” if you’re in the know. I LOVE this stuff and soon, you will too.
- Liquid Smoke: ok, even if you aren’t vegan, liquid smoke adds a little extra ‘je ne sais quoi’ to just about any dish. It’s great for stews, chili and sauces. Be careful because one drop goes a long way so proceed with caution my friends.
- Lentils: dried, canned, red, green – you name it and they are in my pantry. Lentils are a FABULOUS replacement for ground meat and are super nutritious so I recommend stocking up. All hail lentils!
- Vital Wheat Gluten: for those of you who are dabbling in more advanced vegan cooking (think: homemade seitan), vital wheat gluten should form part of your pantry. I’ve just started experimenting myself and it’s the coolest stuff. Vital wheat gluten is made from the main protein in wheat. It is high in protein and gives mixtures an elastic texture which is shockingly similar to meat when cooked. It’s one of the ways to substitute meat without using soy so if you’re soy-sensitive, this one is for you. While it’s a great source of protein there is controversy over gluten (even for those who aren’t gluten sensitive) so this is not something I use daily.
- Food Processor: not a food item but, in my view, completely necessary. Many recipes can be “lazy-ified” (yep, I just made up a word) through the magic of a food processor. Get yourself one that’s big enough to process at least a can of beans and an onion (you’re well on your way to burger patties with this!). I use mine to make sauces, soups, to chop things when I’m feeling lazy and everything in between. Make sure to inspect whichever one you’re considering for ease of cleaning because you will likely be using it often.
And that’s it! The 5 things that will super-charge your vegan pantry and take your vegan cooking to new and glorious heights.
What are your vegan pantry favorites?
The Vegan Virgin, xo